Apologies if I’m teaching anyone to suck eggs, as most people are probably more internet scam savvy than me, but still never hurts to spread the word.
This one lobbed into my inbox this morning:
The Cut Off Taxes Program
The Cut Off Taxes Program (COTP)
If you want, from 01.15.2009 you can register for the The Cut Off Taxes Program (COTP).
This means you could get 19% back from all your 2009 taxes.
Remember to keep your receipt.
They will help you calculate your refund and you may be required to show them as proof of purchase.
Get register Now (unlinked H/T to Lindsaybits)
* Online Tax Refund is so secure guarantee we`ll cover any losses it there`s ever any unauthorized use of your account . In fact , we even guarantee that every payer will be paid on time or we will cover late fees Payments are guaranteed as long as all payment information is entered correctly.
The give aways are it’s a dot com address instead of a dot gov dot au, and the Get register Now mangling of the English language. The Tax Office is aware of this and has it on its scam page. Athough that one offers 30% off.
Categories: skepticism, work and family
Mindy I notice you included the link in the quoted part of the scam email – I haven’t clicked on it – have you done something to it to make it safe to click on? (I assume it’s a phishing scam?)
No, I haven’t (see not internet savvy). Yes, it is a phishing scam.
I can haz internet knowhow from admin plz?
Actually, when i moused over the link you advised to not click on, the address it showed was located on the domain “kazan.ru”.
Looks like this is a wordpress blog, so if you want to make that link unclickable, edit the post, highlight the link text, and look for a button that looks like a broken link. On my version of WP, it’s the top row of buttons, the 5th from the right. Or you can use the keyboard shortcut Alt+Shift+S. At that point, you can add a blurb saying something like “link removed, but went to kazan.ru domain” – if you’re so inclined.
What’s worse, it’s not even a .com — it’s a .ru. Anyone who believes the Australian government contracts tax paperwork out to Russia could probably be convinced that all kind of things have been contracted out to Nigeria.
Sorry, Mindy – only just saw this! I see you’ve manage to delinkify the scamlink. I just added a blockquote tag for extra clarity.
19% is oddly shrewed – convincing choice of number.
I tend to run anything offering me money through my inferiority filter – it’s the one constructive use I’ve found for an inferiority complex, to be honest. After all, if these people have so much money to be giving away, why are they contacting me, when there’s so many other people out there who are so much better at just about anything than I am?
This one showed up in my mailbox, too, and triggered my mental “scam” filters fairly quickly. For a start, I’ve never actually given the ATO my email details – they have my postal address and possibly my mobile phone number. So the ATO sending me something via email would actually be a breach of Australian federal privacy legislation, and a Very Bad Thing indeed. Certainly more than someone’s job was worth, so it wouldn’t be likely to happen.
Second clue: the ATO is in the business of collecting taxes. They are not in the business of saving people money. So they’re not likely to be promoting something like this in the first place. If they were, I sincerely doubt the first place I’d hear of it would be through a mass email – that would imply the Minister didn’t want the credit for such a thing, which is positively unthinkable.
Third clue: I’m unlikely to be paying taxes this year anyway – I’m on unemployment benefit, and while I’m getting money taken out for tax, it’s mostly because I tend to regard this as a very good way of saving a few hundred dollars a year toward larger purchases. The ATO (gods bless ‘em and keep ‘em, preferably at a distance) knows how much I’m earning, and how much tax I’m paying. My tax file number wouldn’t show up on a trawl through their databases as someone who’d benefit from such a scheme, even if they *were* promoting something like this.
Having actually looked at the email itself (it originally got picked up as spam by Thunderbird and dumped straight to the bye-bye box) there are some other things which would trigger my “this isn’t genuine” filters. To start with, there’s no “Australian Government” coat of arms images anywhere in there, or any ATO logos. There’s also no indication that Thunderbird wasn’t actually loading these images (which is often the case for image-heavy stuff which lands in my inbox). Next up, the email isn’t signed by anyone – a definite giveaway. Most government documents have to be signed (even if the signature is added by a printer from a scanned image) with a human name, because the name of the person signing is the name of the person you’re meant to contact about the issue. Check any paper documentation you’ve received from a government department or agency: there will be a reference name and a reference number for you to contact. Final hint (and this is a really big one): there’s no official disclaimer attached as a sigfile, and *every* government agency and department has to attach that one by law – in most cases, it gets tacked on by the mail servers rather than being left up to individual users.
Basically, a lot of these scams tend to play on people’s desire to get something for nothing. Just remember TANSTAAFL – there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. If you’re getting something for nothing, you’re either not getting anything at all, or you’re paying more than you’d think.
 And here we come to the other big reason why Australian government agencies and departments aren’t likely to contact you via email: once you have someone’s email address, you have a contact detail for someone who works for the department, and many people will tend to use this person as their sole point of contact for each and every issue they have with said department or agency, regardless of whether or not the person is permitted to handle it. Public servants are rather cagey about their contact details as a result.
 If there is or has ever been a single Minister in the Australian Federal Government (or any of the State governments) who did not desperately desire every single skerrick of good publicity they could lay their greasy mitts on, I doubt anyone’s ever heard of them. Implying that the Federal Treasurer (who has always been Mr Nasty in the public mind) would be such a person is just beyond belief.
The one I got did have government logos on it. I was curious as to why, having received my tax return I should suddenly get another 19% so I checked Snopes (which being a US site had nothing) then the Tax Office site which does. The email I got did have Aust Govt logos on it, so maybe the scammers realised that they needed those. But you make some very good points. Also, I realised later that the date format was all wrong, not even a govt department would use the US date format in an email.